By Brian Fischler
We got to the San Diego airport and, once again, the airline did not ask for any paperwork for my guide dog, nor did the TSA hassle me at all with any bizarre demands regarding my guide dog. Amazingly, so far the airport stops have all been hassle free. Keeping my fingers crossed that this continues. This will be my last flight with Sir Edward, so things may change when I am all on my own. I will need to remember to “remain calm” like Kevin Bacon said in Animal House.
We arrive in Seattle and there is a guest services employee strolling up as we exit the plane. We get to the cab pick up area, as we are told it is easier and quicker to take a cab out of the Seattle airport then request a Lyft or Uber. Well, that may be the case for people traveling without a service dog but as we go to get into our first cab, the driver begins hassling me about the dog. Get this, the cab driver actually asks me how he is expected to drive on the freeway with a dog in his van? Um, the exact same way you do without a dog in your van?
I started off calmly explaining that the dog will not bother him nor pay attention to him. As I am explaining this, Ed is already in the van. I go to get in the van and need to let Wesley jump in first, and because it is several steps up, I need to let go of Wesley’s leash to get into the van. The cabbie goes nuts saying, “See, see?!” Ok, first off, Wesley is just getting himself settled in the van, and I have now had it with this driver. I yell for the cab stand employee at the airport and tell her that I want to file a complaint about this driver but the cab stand employee is useless. The driver is saying I am being unreasonable. I do not want to get into this cab, but I do so anyway, as I just want to get to the hotel already.
During the ride,I don’t say one word to the cab driver, and barely acknowledge his existence. This is the fun you get to deal with sometimes when traveling with a guide dog.
We get to the hotel, get checked in, and, oh boy, this is one of these fun hotels where you need to swipe your card in the elevator and then select your floor number. Of course, there is zero accessibility built into any of this. No clue how hotels in 2023, get away with inaccessibly designed elevators. I mean, come on, man! Can I at least get a floor announcement when the doors open? Nope.
We get to the room and the hotel brings up a bowl for Wesley since has been slumming it since someone forgot his collapsible bowl in their hotel room in Phoenix.
We get Wesley fed and head downstairs. We are pretty exhausted so decide to just hit the hotel bar/restaurant for dinner and a drink. The name of the bar is Jimmy’s on Broadway and it is attached to our hotel the Silver Cloud on Broadway. We meet the bartender, a nice dude named Rob from Maine. He went from living in the great northeast to now living in the great northwest. We have our dinner and drinks and talk to some of the other customers at the bar who are staying at the hotel. We meet a nice gentleman named David from San Francisco. He is in Seattle every two weeks for work and tells us all about the disaster the city of San Francisco has become. Good thing we chose to go to San Diego over San Francisco. Jimmy’s closes at 10pm, so it is a very early night for us.
The next morning, the phone rings bright and early. I am still sleeping so Ed answers it. It is the manager of the hotel and the call is for me. I grumpily grab the phone but am pleasantly surprised the manager is calling about laundry. Yippee! Our Flight for Sight friend Mike Walsh had reached out to the hotel inquiring about getting laundry done. This hotel has laundry on every floor, but again, how in the world is a blind guy going to work everything? Sure, I could take the time and possibly figure out the machines on my own, or use Aira to help me, but why in the world would I want to waste all that time? The manager comes up and I quickly get my laundry together. It will be so freaking nice to finally have clean clothes.
Ed and I then head down to Jimmy’s for breakfast. Next, we get a little work done in the room and the phone goes off again. Wesley’s new bowl has arrived in an Amazon delivery to the hotel. I run downstairs to pick it up. We then get ready and head out early for the All Star game to make sure we have plenty of time to get to our seats and make introductions. We need to stop at a local print shop first, as we arranged with Mike Walsh, Mr. Flight for Sight, to get some sweatshirts made up that say Flight for Sight and have a scannable QR code on the back. Hey, who knows, maybe we will be on TV! Just make sure to tell me to turn around so the viewers can scan the QR code! The sweatshirts are very nice, and I know you are saying, “Wait a minute, sweatshirts in July?” Yes, believe it or not, it will get down to a very lovely 64 degrees at the All Star game. Got to love Seattle weather when it is not raining.
We get to the ballpark and, just an FYI, if you try to book a Lyft ride to Safeco Field, you will get no results. Who knew they renamed the stadium several years ago to T-Mobile Park? Well, thankfully Google knew, so we get to the correct place.
We get out of our Lyft and it is a zoo-like atmosphere outside of T-Mobile Park. Hmm, how the heck are two blind dudes going to navigate this fun?
When you are blind, you really need to work on your listening skills, as they can really help you and save you a lot of time. Ed and I hear a guy yelling, “No lines here! Shorter lines here to enter!” We follow our ears to the guy who is yelling this. We are on the other side of the barricades but the guy helps us navigate around them and into the entry area to the park. We are very fortunate, as he is a guest services employee, so not only does he get us to the entry, but he gets us through security, which was shockingly very minimal. He then takes us to guest services where we get the in-house real time radio. Plus, they give us a couple of over the ears headsets which they tell us we can keep. Sweet!
Our guest services friend then walks us to our seats in row 30, right across from first base. Nice! We scored these great seats thanks to Mr. Mike “Flight for Sight” Walsh and his connections. Nice job Mikey, nice job my man. We get Wesley situated, as the usher tells us that he cannot be in the aisle, and doing so we get to talking to our seat mates. Everyone loves Wesley, and I mean everyone. Ends up the guys sitting next to us also got their tickets through the same connection that we got our seats through, and we meet our new friend Jim Green.
This is the first stadium we have been to on our Flight for Sight adventure where there are actually vendors walking around selling things. No clue if it is because it is the All Star game, or because of where we are seated, or just because Seattle still wants to give you the old school, real baseball experience, but we like it and we grab a beer.
The introductions begin, and all the players from the American League and the National League are introduced. They then have a military member sing the national anthem and, while he is very nice, he is no Enrico Palazzo. For those of you not getting that reference, please go watch the Naked Gun again.
The game begins and moves very quickly due to the new pitch clock that baseball has implemented this season. In the first inning, the American League makes two amazing catches in the outfield and eventually takes a 2 to 1 lead. As they do, Jim and his buddy buy Ed and me a round of beers. Hey, at $18 a beer, that is unbelievably nice! Ed and I had to mortgage a couple of Ed’s kids at past stadiums to afford all the beer and food!
The game flies into the 8th and guest services has arrived to escort Ed and me out of the stadium. We can’t wait til the end or we will never, ever find our Lyft ride. The gentleman escorting us out is very nice but even he has no clue where the Lyft and Uber pick up area is. He makes a few calls over his walkie talkie and discovers that you need to go across some train tracks for the pick up area. He gets us there and bids adieu, and I book us a Lyft back to the hotel. We are thinking that once we get back, maybe we will hit a bar near the hotel.
I mention to our first Lyft that we are blind and the ride is canceled. I mention to the second driver that we are blind and, again, the ride is canceled. This is not great, so the third time, I do not mention to the Lyft driver that we are blind. We hear in the background the National League has hit a 2-run homer and has taken the lead. We are still waiting for our Lyft as the game ends and the masses are filing out of the stadium. Our ride finally shows up and two nice women help us find our Lyft. They open the door, and Wesley jumps in. That’s when the driver hits us with, “Get that f***ing dog out of my car!” I say, Excuse me?” and again he shouts, “Get that f***ing dog out of my car and close my door!” I am shocked to say the least, but more shockingly, I remain calm. I explain to the Lyft driver that it is against federal law for him to refuse a ride to someone with a service dog. His response: “I don’t care, I ain’t taking no dog in my f***ing car!” Wow, this guy has zero business doing a job where you interact with the public. The driver yells at us to close his door and I instruct Ed to back up and I tell the driver “Close your own f***g door.” I make sure no one else closes this guy’s door and I tell him that he is going to lose his job as I will be filing a complaint with Lyft. He says he doesn’t care and drives off.
We are absolutely stunned with not only the ride refusal but with how this guy spoke to us. Fortunately for us, another Lyft/Uber driver witnessed the entire incident, and approaches us. This is when we met our new friend in Seattle Sean. Sean owns his own car service called Viking Transportation Services and also drives for the ride shares. He feels terrible about the way we were treated. Sean is an absolutely awesome guy and drives us back to our hotel. If you are ever in the Seattle area, especially if you travel with a service dog, I would highly recommend reaching out to Sean for all your ride needs. You can book him at 206-325-7700.
We get back to our hotel but, after our harrowing experience, we are in no mood to go exploring, so we go back to Jimmy’s on Broadway. Amazingly, it is not even 9pm, since the game started at 5pm West Coast time. Still weird getting used to the time things start on the West Coast. We have our same bartender Rob and we tell everyone at the bar about our Lyft experience. Everyone is shocked. If this was the 1800’s, I am pretty sure the hotel bar guests would have formed a posse to go out and find that Lyft driver. But it’s 2023, so we just settle for some drinks and a bite to eat. We meet a very nice gentleman from St. Louis named Randy and Randy wants us to come to St. Louis on our Flight for Sight journey as he has season tickets to the Cardinals. Sorry, Randy, but we can’t hit every city! Instead, Randy picks up our tab for dinner and drinks. If you are keeping score, that’s now Dallas, Houston, the All Star game, and our second night in Seattle where people have picked up Ed and my tab. Unreal. Just when you think there are no more nice people in the world, we keep meeting the few remaining ones. The bar stays open until 11pm to accommodate us, and we then call it a night.
Day three in Seattle, the day I bid adieu to Sir Edward. I have arranged to meet a good friend from high school for lunch. Alex, who lives in Seattle, meets me (where else?) at Jimmy’s on Broadway. Boy, I wish they had one of those repeat customer cards here, as I am sure I am approaching a free sub or something. Lol. Alex and I have a very lovely lunch and eventually Ed comes down to join us. Ed is not leaving until the red eye, so we both get a little work done.Then our friend Mr. Rideshare Sean calls me. He has Lyft on the phone and wants to help me file a complaint against the horrible Lyft driver from last night. I had tried to do so in the app on my own but when the idiot driver canceled our ride, any record of the ride disappeared from my app. Very interesting how Lyft does that. I find out a couple of days later, after a few emails from Lyft and them investigating the incident, that the Lyft driver has been dismissed from driving for Lyft and, for all my troubles, Lyft gives me a whopping $10 credit. Geez, that makes up for everything we went through. If you don’t understand sarcasm, it does not make up for the ordeal!
A few hours later, our new friend Sean shows up to take Ed to the airport. I head back to Jimmy’s on Broadway for my last meal in Seattle, and again our friendly bartender is there. I run into Dave from night one and we talk until closing time. So much for an early night but hey, it is only 10pm.
I say my good-byes and head up to the room to pack and continue on my Flight for Sight journey without Ed. Next up: Denver, Colorado.
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Photo Description 1: Brian and his guide dog Wesley along with Ed are at the MLB All-Star game. The field is in the background. They are wearing royal blue sweatshirts with the Flight for Sight logo. The logo is white in the shape of an eye. A plane makes up the pupil. Underneath the logo is “Flight for Sight” and the tagline is “Explore. Engage. Educate.”
Photo Description 2: Ed and Brian are at a bar with their royal blue Flight for Sight sweatshirts on.
Photo Description 3: Brian and his guide dog Wesley are with Alex in a restaurant.
Photo Description 4: Email from Lyft telling Brian the driver he reported has been banned from the platform and he has a $10 credit.